I don’t want to look at other people my age in leather. Why would I put it on?
Leather, are you still here?
Seriously, leather, it’s time we had a little talk. Sure, you look, smell and feel great, and if you’re the right type and thickness you can protect me from 100-mph slides, plus you piss off vegans, but maybe it’s time you look at some retirement-home options. You’re heavy, you lose your protective properties if you’re not carefully maintained, you’re difficult and expensive to work with, you have to be professionally repaired and you can’t survive a visit to the washing machine. I hear wool and linen are living in a very nice home in Florida, where they play shuffleboard every day and have plenty of activities.
What’s better than you, you ask? Have you met Ms. Cordura? She was invented by Dow Chemicals in the 1930s, and though she’s older than my mom, she’s still the cutting edge when it comes to protective textiles. She’s a special proprietary weave of nylon that pound-for-pound has far better abrasion resistance than you. She was actually developed for use in tire cords (hence her name: Cord-ura), and her brother, Ballistic Nylon, was used to protect WWII airmen from shrapnel.
Don’t confuse her with the black sheep of her family, Abrasion-Resistant Nylon. He makes all kinds of claims as to how awesome he is, but nobody can get a straight answer out of him. What makes Cordura strong isn’t the “denier” – that’s the weight of the thread, not the density of the finished fabric. It’s the way it’s woven, though of course, using heavier thread makes the fabric tougher, so 1000-denier Cordura is more abrasion resistant than 500-denier, but not twice as abrasion resistant.
How is it compared to leather? In Taber testing – you remember Taber testing, right? Where you’re placed on test equipment that measures how many times you can be rubbed with an abrasive disc until you rip? Yeah, I’ll bet you remember that! In Taber testing, Cordura does about half as well as thick, brand-new roadrace-quality leather, and as well or better than cheaper, lighter leather.
Oh, you say she’s not comfortable for a jacket? Well, I beg to differ. I’ve been wearing the 6.0 jacket from Corazzo, and I think it’s a benchmark for how good a textile jacket can be. Corazzo got its start making scooter apparel, and scooterists (yes, they call themselves “scooterists,” which is so cute) know they look silly dressed up like pirates or spacemen, so they demand gear that’s as protective, warm and practical as the apparel worn by cruiser and sportbike riders yet looks like regular street clothing.
Cordura is just right for that kind of thing, so Corazzo uses a 1000-denier Cordura outer shell tailored like a nylon windbreaker you might see in an old race-car movie like Viva Las Vegas or Le Mans. Despite the retro looks, the $289 jacket has the features you’ll find in most moto-specific apparel these days: big zippered underarm vents, a high collar, fleece-lined hand-warmer pockets, removable liner, interior pockets and pockets for armor. The racing stripe is actually 3M Scotchlite reflective material for nighttime safety.
The jacket is well made and has plenty of high-quality features at this price point. The construction is nice, with sealed, double-stitched seams and CE-standard Knox armor at the shoulders and elbows. The back protector is also Knox. It feels inexpensive, but it is CE standard (level 2, 2003) and inspires much more confidence than the foam-rubber placeholders many apparel manufacturers include with many jackets (even pricey ones), which may be worse than nothing.
In use, the jacket impresses with some notable advantages. It’s really light, at just 3.0 pounds (with armor), light enough to make you feel like you’re just wearing a windbreaker. I also like the comfortable, yet tailored, cut, which is designed for scooters, but works well with cruisers and standards. The removable liner is warmer than you’d expect given its minimal weight and bulk, almost as warm as fleece. I also appreciate the two-way zipper and how the liner is stylin’ enough to use as a walking-around jacket for rallies or campsites.
Now, leather, you may be glad to know that Ms. Cordura doesn’t cut the wind as well as you, but the jacket and liner is okay for an hour or two if the temperature is in the 50s or higher, even on a naked bike. Colder than that, and you can take advantage of the roomy cut to layer, or even zip in Corazzo’s $299 battery/corded heated vest. I appreciated the full-length windflap over the main zipper, and the high, fleece-line collar when it was cool. When it gets hot, the armpit and back vents flow some air, but I wouldn’t call this a hot-weather jacket.
Here are a few things I didn’t like, in case you think I’m a Corazzo shill. Cordura is stiff and takes longer to break in than cheaper, lighter polyester or nylon, which makes the jacket less comfortable than I expected. If it’s like an Aerostich Roadcrafter, also made with Cordura, it will take a while to get truly comfy and mold to the body, but when it does, the rider will bond with it and never want to take it off. I also found the vent zippers difficult – if not impossible – to open or shut while wearing the jacket. To top off the nit-list, I don’t like the Velcro cuff adjusters, as I had to undo them to unzip the sleeves. The Velcro will likely wear out long before the Cordura shell, diminishing the useful life of what could be a lifetime riding jacket.
When it rains, there is probably only a limited time before a rider gets damp, based on my Aerostich experience, though NikWax or other waterproofing compound could make this short-duration rain gear. And unlike you, Leather, after it rains you just wait for Ms. Cordura to dry, with no need to fret about ruining her. For that matter, you can wash her in a washing machine (although you’ll need to use a specialized Cordura detergent if you want her really clean) and run her through the dryer. A last note about rain riding – visibility is hampered, especially at night, so the 6.0’s huge reflective stripes might just save a life or two.
Leather, it’s been real, in fact, it’s been real fun, and I’ll always have you in my closet. But there’s just not that much need for you to ride with me each day. Corazzo’s 6.0 offers value, flexibility, style and comfort at a great price point for such high-quality features, plus it offers all the abrasion resistance I need to feel safe riding on public roads. It’s not you, it’s me.
Actually, yeah, it’s you.